RLIF Suspends Tonga NRL

26th September 2019

The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Board today notified the Tongan National Rugby League (TNRL) that it has been suspended from membership of the RLIF pending a full investigation into issues raised by various parties. The unanimous decision was made after the Tongan Prime Minister advised the RLIF that TNRL had lost the trust and support of its members, clubs and players. The RLIF received expressions of concern about Tonga National Rugby League from other full members, the Rugby Football League and the Australian Rugby League Commission. In addition, Australia’s Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) has also provided the RLIF with a list of Tonga’s highest profile players who have indicated they will not make themselves available to play for Tonga under the current administration. The RLIF Board recognised that it needed to weigh the rights and entitlement of membership against its wider primary obligations to foster, develop, promulgate, govern and administer the game of rugby league throughout the world. Based upon the volume and magnitude of representations received the Board decided that it needed to intervene immediately. The RLIF will work with the Tongan government and key stakeholders to create an interim arrangement. RLIF Chairman, Graeme Thompson commented: "The RLIF has received representations and concerns from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the RFL, the ARLC, the RLPA on behalf of leading players and from concerned groups in the Kingdom of Tonga."

RLIF Recommends Tonga NRL Reform

16th December 2019

The International Rugby League Board has recommended a package of reforms for Tongan rugby league following the conclusion of a two-month investigation into the operation and governance of Tonga National Rugby League. The investigation, which included a mission to Tonga by independent investigator Gareth Holmes, who met with multiple stakeholders, was initiated after concerns were raised from the Office of the Prime Minister of Tonga, the Tongan Sports Council, the Rugby Football League, the Australian Rugby League Commission and the Rugby League Players Association, which led to the suspension of TNRL’s membership of International Rugby League in late September. The report concluded that changes to the governance structure of TNRL will support a more effective, unified organisation that better reflects the complexion of the Tongan rugby league movement. The key recommendations are: The formation of an independent implementation committee to liaise with stakeholders throughout the reform process

  • A board whose positions are balanced between multiple electorates, including players, clubs, the diaspora and independents
  • New rules to regulate clubs’ status as voting members of the general assembly
  • Tongan stakeholders have been informed of these finding and there will now be a 30-day period of consultation before a final plan is presented for adoption and implementation by Tongan rugby league.

    IRL’s Global Operations Manager Danny Kazandjian said: “I would like to thank the multiple stakeholder groups that contributed to this investigation. Everyone involved in international rugby league wants to see Tonga prosper on both the international and the domestic stage. "Following the schism in Tongan rugby league and investigation into the reasons for that, it was evident that the current governance model was capable of improvement to reflect the current circumstances of Tonga. The recommendations are a direct response to the issues unearthed by the investigation, are based on fundamental good governance principles, and are intended to introduce measures that will modernise Tongan rugby league’s governance and, therefore, its stability and capacity to grow the game at all levels. We recognise that there are deeply held views but we sincerely hope that all parties can come together and collaborate behind these positive recommendations and participate constructively in this reform process, for the betterment of rugby league in Tonga."

    RLIF Expells Tonga NRL

    13th February 2020

    At its Board meeting on 13 February, the Directors carefully considered the position of Tonga National Rugby League, which has been suspended since October 2019, in the light of a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders in the Tongan game. After that meeting, the Board wrote to TNRL, advising them of the resolution passed at that meeting, which is to expel TNRL from the membership. There is a process within the IRL constitution for dealing with membership issues, which IRL is following. TNRL has one week to appeal the Board’s decision.

    RLIF Confirms Expulsion Tonga NRL

    21st March 2020

    At a Special General Meeting of International Rugby League (IRL) the membership confirmed the IRL Board decision to expel Tonga National Rugby League (TNRL) by a majority of nine votes to five. TNRL had appealed the original decision and appeared at the SGM to present their case to the membership. The membership heard and were able to question testimony from TNRL and from IRL investigators before voting to confirm support for the Board’s original decision. IRL now expects, in due course, an application for membership to be received from the Tongan rugby league community.

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